Judgment Is God’s Love
By Sien, USA
God’s words say: “What testimony does man ultimately bear to God? Man testifies that God is the righteous God, that His disposition is righteousness, wrath, chastisement, and judgment; man testifies to the righteous disposition of God. God uses His judgment to make man perfect, He has loved man, and saved man—but how much is contained within His love? There is judgment, majesty, wrath, and curse. Though God cursed man in the past, He did not completely cast man into the bottomless pit, but used that means to refine man’s faith; He did not put man to death, but acted in order to make man perfect. The substance of the flesh is that which is of Satan—God said it exactly right—but the facts carried out by God are not completed according to His words. He curses you so that you might love Him, and so that you might know the substance of the flesh; He chastises you so that you might be awakened, to allow you to know the deficiencies within you, and to know man’s utter unworthiness. Thus, God’s curses, His judgment, and His majesty and wrath—they are all in order to make man perfect. All that God does today, and the righteous disposition that He makes plain within you—it is all in order to make man perfect. Such is the love of God” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, God’s Judgment Is Love). When people mentioned God’s love, I used to think of His mercy and compassion, His grace and blessings. I didn’t really understand His love of judgment and chastisement. But after personal experience with it, I saw how important it is, and I saw that God’s words are the truth, and all so practical. Judgment truly is God’s love for mankind, and the best salvation.
I used to be responsible for the watering team, and then September of last year I was dismissed for not doing practical work. The church leader arranged for Sister Wang to take over my work. That left me with a feeling I can’t put into words. I’d overseen Sister Wang’s work before, and now she was going to oversee mine. Didn’t that make me look incompetent? I’d gone from someone in charge to a regular member of the watering team. Wouldn’t that be humiliating if the brothers and sisters who knew me found out? I really regretted not doing my duty well. Later in a team’s discussion about our work, everyone was silent for quite a while, and as I watched the time tick by, I thought that even though I wasn’t in charge anymore, I did have some experience with the watering work, so I should take on more and express my thoughts. That way everyone would see I was still playing an important role, and everyone might look up to me. So I started proactively pitching in with my thoughts and ideas, and after a few discussions, people mostly agreed with me. In nearly every discussion, we went with my ideas, so I felt like my capabilities really stood out in the team. I didn’t have the role of supervisor, but I could still handle that kind of work. I thought the others would look up to me, and then one day I might be promoted again. I started pitching in more actively after that, and before every gathering, I’d reach out to ask about everyone’s state and find relevant words of God. It took a lot of time and energy, but I figured that doing a good job would prove my capability, so paying that price was well worth it.
During that time, I discovered some issues in our work, and others mostly agreed with the solutions and suggestions I came up with. I was feeling like everyone could see how hard I was working, so I might get promoted when the leader reviewed our work and saw how I was doing. But some time passed, and the leader didn’t seem to have any intention of promoting me. I noticed that more and more people were joining the church, so more people were needed to take on positions, but it didn’t seem like there was any thought of promoting me. I started to feel kind of down. I felt like I’d made some changes and was doing pretty well in my duty. Since the church was so short of help, why wasn’t I getting another chance? After being dismissed once, would I never have another chance to be in charge? It didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t know why all my hard work wasn’t paying off. What was I lacking? Later on, I thought I must not be working hard enough or good enough, or I wasn’t achieving enough. I figured I needed to keep working hard, and not only focus on achievements in my duty, but also on life entry and pursuing the truth, so others could see my personal progress. Then God would have mercy on me and give me a chance. I thought that with proper “pursuit,” there would be a change one day, and even if I wasn’t promoted, I could stand out in our team and gain the other brothers’ and sisters’ admiration. So I threw myself into our team’s watering work, and when newcomers had problems, I’d carefully think it over, finding God’s words to fellowship on. When I didn’t understand something, I’d earnestly pray and seek. After some time, I was more and more successful in watering newcomers. Some time later in a gathering, the team leader mentioned I’d shouldered a burden for my duty, and was good at resolving new believers’ issues. I felt very pleased with myself. I thought everyone would start seeing how well I was doing, and if I could improve my performance more, I could win everyone’s admiration. Then I’d have a shot at promotion. I really threw myself into it after that. Aside from my own responsibilities, I also took on as much of the team’s other work as I could, and provided feedback and assistance to the supervisor when I discovered issues. I didn’t slack on my pursuit of the truth, either, but read God’s words in every spare moment. I’d come before God in prayer and seeking whenever I felt off and actively engage in fellowship in gatherings.
But I still wasn’t promoted after quite a while of hard work. I felt like no matter how hard I worked or how well I did, God would never reward me, and the leader would never promote me. So what was the point of all of it? After that, I stopped putting so much effort in, and when I saw newcomers failing to gather regularly, I just casually asked about it without any detailed inquiry or support. Sometimes when sister Wang had me find words of God for brothers’ and sisters’ particular states, I felt like that wasn’t my job, and no one would notice no matter how well I did, so I’d fob it off with an excuse. My own state started deteriorating and I didn’t know what to say in prayer. Reading God’s words didn’t feel enlightening, and sometimes I’d get sleepy. I felt a real darkness in my spirit and couldn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s work. Before long, I saw other brothers and sisters being promoted, while I was still a lowly member of the watering team. I became even more discouraged. Believers just like me were church leaders and team leaders, and had others’ admiration, but I never got promoted. Did it mean I was a failure as a believer and in my duty? I’d been working so hard, but was stuck in the same old place. I felt like there was no hope of promotion for me. I got so negative that I couldn’t muster up the motivation for anything.
At the time, I wondered why I was feeling so down. Why did I only live for status? Had I only been after status all my years of faith? Thinking it over, I realized how pathetic I was. As a human being, why was I so obsessed with status? I really hated myself. I kneeled down before God in prayer and said, “God, I want to pursue the truth in my faith, repay Your love, and do the duty of a created being. Why am I so preoccupied with status? I don’t want to live in this state, but I can’t help myself. My desire for status has me in its clutches. God, please enlighten and save me, so that I can understand my problem and resolve it.” After praying, I read this passage of God’s words. “An antichrist has an antichrist’s disposition and essence, and this is what distinguishes them from a normal person. On the surface, they may appear to willingly submit to their dismissal, to be able to accept this reality, but there’s one thing that they never change: No matter where they are doing a duty, what group of people they mingle with, they want to stand out from the crowd, to be looked up to and admired by others; even if they don’t have a legitimate post and title as a church leader or team leader, they still want to be head and shoulders above others in standing and status. Regardless of whether they can do the work, what sort of humanity or life experience they have, they will devise all sorts of means and go to great lengths to find chances to elevate themselves, to buy their way into people’s hearts, to win others over, deceive and entice them, in order to gain their admiration. What about them is there to admire? ‘A lean camel is still bigger than a horse’—even though they have been dismissed, they remain an eagle flying above chickens. Isn’t this the arrogance and self-righteousness of the antichrist, and their exceptionalism? They cannot reconcile themselves to being without status, to being a regular believer, to be just an ordinary person. They cannot simply do their duty with their feet on the ground and stay in their place, do a good job in their own duty, devote themselves to it and do their best. These things come nowhere near satisfying them. Where do their ambitions lie? In being admired, looked up to, and holding power. So, even if they don’t have a particular title attached to their name, an antichrist will strive for themselves, speak up for themselves and justify themselves, doing everything they can to put on a show, to show what they can do, and are terrified of going unseen. They will pounce on every opportunity to become better known, to increase their prestige, making more people see their gifts and strengths, see that they are superior to others. In everything that they do, an antichrist is willing to pay any price it takes to flaunt and commend themselves, to make everyone think that, even if they are no longer a leader, and no longer have status, they are still superior to ordinary people. In this manner, an antichrist has achieved their goal. They aren’t willing to be a regular person, an ordinary person; they want power and prestige, and to be exalted” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings). God’s words really hit the nail on the head for me. It felt like God was right there, exposing me. God says people like antichrists want name and status, to have power and others’ admiration no matter what. To fulfill that wild ambition, antichrists will pay any price to be noticed, to exalt themselves, and win people over. I could see that my pursuit was exactly the same as an antichrist’s. In my faith, I wanted to have status, to be a leader or a supervisor. I wanted to excel within my group, and be admired and supported by others. After I was dismissed, I didn’t address my desire to be a supervisor. I actively participated in work discussions and offered suggestions, and I gave feedback to leaders as soon as I discovered problems, so they would know I could not only find issues, but also provide solutions, that I had a head on my shoulders. Then I’d be in line for a promotion. I worked hard in my duty, so that other brothers and sisters would see I could do practical work, and once I’d gained their approval, I’d have a shot at promotion. I was proactive in work even when it wasn’t my primary responsibility, ready to spend lots of my time and energy. I didn’t slack in my pursuit of the truth, either. It was so everyone would see what a burden I shouldered, that I could take a heavy load and still pursue the truth, so they’d approve of me. I looked for every chance to prove myself, to show off and win people over. Isn’t that the sort of antichrist behavior that God exposes?
I read another passage of God’s words that really thoroughly describes the corrupt essence of antichrists. Almighty God says, “The goal and motive behind everything an antichrist does revolve around these two things—status and reputation. Whether it is their outward way of talking, acting, or behaving, or a kind of thinking and viewpoint or way of seeking, everything revolves around their reputation and status. For an antichrist, attacking or damaging their reputation and status is a matter more serious even than trying to take their life. No matter how many sermons they listen to or how many of God’s words they read, they cannot cause them to feel sadness or regret over never having practiced the truth and their having taken the path of the antichrist, nor over their possession of the nature and essence of an antichrist. Instead, they are always racking their brains for ways to gain status and increase their reputation. It can be said that everything this sort of person does is done in front of others, and is not done before God. Why do I say this? It is because such people are so in love with status that they treat it as their very life, as their life goal and direction. Moreover, because they love status so much, they never believe in the existence of truth. The implication is that because people like this have this sort of essence and nature, they harbor absolutely no belief in God’s existence. Thus, no matter how they calculate and no matter how they try to use false appearances to trick people and God, in the depths of their hearts, they have no guilt or any sense of awareness, let alone any anxiety. Therefore, all along, while consistently and unscrupulously seeking status and reputation, they have also been repudiating everything God does. Deep in their heart, in their subconscious mind, they have a certain understanding. They think, ‘A person’s status and everything else depends on themselves to strive for. Only by planting one’s feet among people and gaining absolute power and the highest status can one’s life have any value; only then can one live like a human. On the contrary, it would be cowardly to live in such a way as to submit, as in the word of God, to God’s sovereignty and arrangement in everything, to willingly stand in the position of creation, and to live like a normal person—no one would look up to them. A person’s status, reputation, and happiness must be won through their own struggles; they must be fought for and seized with a positive and active attitude. No one else will give them to you—waiting around passively is useless.’ … In their seeking and in the scope of their knowledge, they believe that the only true objects of creation are those with status, and that having status means being able to obtain everything and makes a person live with a human likeness. What do antichrists see status as? They see it as the truth; they regard it as the highest goal to be pursued by normal people. Isn’t that a problem though? They believe that seeking truth, seeking obedience to God, seeking honesty are meaningless processes—that they are done for God to see and are not the standards of conducting oneself. This understanding is preposterous and ridiculous. Only the absurd ones of not loving the truth can produce such a ridiculous idea” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). Reading this passage of God’s words was really poignant for me. It felt like everything I was hiding in my heart had been brought into the light by God. I felt I had nowhere to hide. I started reflecting on myself, and the more I did, the more I felt like my thinking was just like an antichrist’s. All my words and actions were centered around status, and everything I did was to gain admiration. Status was more important to me than anything. Before gaining faith, I always wanted to stand out from the crowd and I loved gaining others’ support and approval. After gaining faith, I kept going after leadership positions so I’d be looked up to and have an important role in the church. After I lost my position as a supervisor, I threw myself into my duty and worked hard to regain a role of importance. When I didn’t get that after some hard work, I became discouraged. I lost interest in my duty after expending so much and doing a good job without anyone noticing. I lost my drive to do well in my duty when I didn’t gain any status. I even misunderstood and blamed God, reasoning with Him and being resistant. I got carried away by thoughts of name and status. I’d lost the conscience and reason a created being should have. I was dismissed because I wasn’t doing practical work, but I didn’t regret my past mistakes. I didn’t think about how to repent and do my duty well to make up for what I owed God. I just used the chance to do a duty to show off, to wholeheartedly pursue status. I wasn’t content to be a regular member of the team, but I was evil and shameless just like an antichrist, totally unreasonable. These words from God really helped me: “They believe that seeking truth, seeking obedience to God, seeking honesty are meaningless processes—that they are done for God to see and are not the standards of conducting oneself” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). This really felt like a slap in the face to me. Pursuing and practicing the truth is a positive thing, and it’s our duty as people. We need to pursue truth in our lives, and live by God’s words. However, I was using pursuit and practice of the truth as a bargaining chip for personal status. I wanted to exchange that for a position. Isn’t that treating the truth like a toy, something to be trampled? Having such a vile motive in my duty could never gain God’s approval. God’s words showed me how absurd my perspective on things was. I thought only by having status and power, being looked up to, well known, and admired could my life have value. Without status as a believer, being a regular follower was a pathetic way to live, and it was a failure. What a crazy outlook! That’s purely satanic logic. God requires us to be qualified created beings, to stay in our own place, to submit to God’s rule and arrangements dutifully, to carry out the responsibilities of a created being. But I turned my back on the principles for being a good person that the Creator sets for us. I didn’t want to stay in my place, but to be a great person doing important work, to have a lofty position and get more admiration that way. That’s a satanic disposition. I was fairly familiar with the watering work, so I was able to offer some ideas and suggestions in our discussions. That’s totally normal, and it was part of my duty. But I had this crazy desire to use that to show off and get promoted. I got upset when I didn’t get what I wanted and felt God couldn’t see my hard work. I thought I was a failure in my faith when I didn’t gain status, and I lost interest in my duty. I mistook my ambition for devotion to God. That so-called devotion was so adulterated, it was dishonest and transactional. How was that practicing truth and doing a duty? It was trying to use and cheat God, and squarely on an antichrist path against God. God sees into our hearts and minds, and He is righteous and holy. I was going headlong down the wrong path. How could I gain the Holy Spirit’s work? My state was deteriorating and I was in darkness. This was God chastising me and sidelining me. That’s when I saw how scary the pursuit of name and status really is. I didn’t know myself, or whether I could do practical work. I just kept pursuing a higher position. I was so corrupted by Satan that I’d lost normal reason and had no self-awareness. I really didn’t know my place. That’s why I was stumbling along and struggling in my pain. My corruption was toying with me and hurting me. Satan corrupts us and harms us through our pursuit of name and status. It’s not a good path to take, and even if we do get status, without pursuing the truth, we’re bound to end up eliminated. We have to pursue the truth and do a created being’s duty to be saved. Then I thought of a passage of God’s words: “You will all one day recognize that fame and gain are monstrous shackles that Satan uses to bind man. When that day comes, you will thoroughly resist Satan’s control and thoroughly resist the shackles Satan uses to bind you. When the time comes that you wish to throw off all the things Satan has instilled in you, you will then make a clean break with Satan and you will truly loathe all that Satan has brought to you. Only then will mankind have a real love and yearning for God” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). I felt they are so true. I saw that all of my misery was because of Satan. I was pursuing status nonstop, toyed with and tormented by Satan. I’d lost the Holy Spirit’s guidance and I was living in darkness. That desire of mine was really doing me in. I hated how stubborn, how rigid I’d been. That whole time, I’d been on an antichrist’s path, going against God. I deserved punishment and elimination. But God didn’t take away my chance at salvation. He kept patiently watering and nurturing me with His words, giving me a chance to have a duty, so that I could see the problem in my pursuit and turn back. But I didn’t get it. I stayed negative and blamed God. I was so unreasonable. I was overcome with guilt when I realized that, and I said this prayer, “God, thank You for Your judgment and chastisement that allowed me to know myself. I don’t want to pursue name and status, but to seek the truth to resolve my corruption, and truly repent.”
I read another passage of God’s words, the last section of “The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation.” “What God requires of people is not the ability to complete a certain number of tasks or accomplish any great undertakings, nor does He need them to pioneer any great undertakings. What God wants is for people to be able to do all they can in a down-to-earth way, and live in accordance with His words. God does not need you to be great or honorable, nor does He need you to bring about any miracles, nor does He want to see any pleasant surprises in you. He does not need such things. All God needs is for you to steadfastly practice according to His words. When you listen to God’s words, do what you have understood, carry out what you have comprehended, remember what you have seen, and then, when the time is right, practice as God says, so that God’s words may become what you live out, and become your life. Thus, God will be satisfied. You are always seeking greatness, nobility, and dignity; you always seek exaltation. How does God feel when He sees this? He loathes it, and does not want to look upon it. The more you pursue things like greatness; nobility; and being superior to others, distinguished, outstanding, and noteworthy, the more disgusting God finds you. If you do not reflect upon yourself and repent, then God will despise you and forsake you. Be sure not to be someone whom God finds disgusting; be a person that God loves. So, how can one attain God’s love? By receiving the truth in a down-to-earth way, by standing in the position of a created being, by firmly relying on the word of God to be an honest person and perform one’s duties, and by living out the likeness of a true human. This is enough. Be sure not to hold ambition or entertain idle dreams, do not seek fame, gains, and status or to stand out from the crowd. Moreover, do not try to be a person of greatness or superhuman, who is superior among men and makes others worship them. That is the desire of corrupt humanity, and it is the path of Satan; God does not save such created beings. If some people still pursue fame, gains, and status and refuse to repent, then there is no cure for them, and there is only one outcome for them: to be eliminated” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I saw from God’s words that He doesn’t want us to be famous, great, or lofty. He wants us to be grounded and do our duty, and just submit to Him. But I didn’t understand myself or faithfully do my duty. I wanted admiration and praise, to have a place in others’ hearts. That was the exact opposite of what God requires. I’m a created being, deeply corrupted by Satan, but I wasn’t content being a regular person. I only wanted status and to be a cut above. I was so arrogant, without any self-awareness. God is the Creator, and He is inherently so great and majestic. He has personally become flesh, coming to the earth to express the truth to save mankind, but He never shows off or takes a stance as God. Instead, He very quietly carries out His work to save mankind. God is so humble and hidden, and His essence is incredibly lovely. I felt so ashamed when I thought about it that way, and I resolved that I absolutely had to forsake my flesh and practice the truth.
After that, I threw myself wholeheartedly into my duty and really thought about how to water new believers. I forgot about my status, but felt happy to be a regular person and do my duty as well as I could. When I put my heart into it, God enlightened me, giving me a path in my watering work. Before I knew it, I was doing better in my duty. I felt so much better with that kind of practice. I remember once when we needed to organize a gathering for new believers. But the sister who was new to the watering team didn’t understand the new believers very well and didn’t know how to approach them. I knew I should take charge and help out, but it occurred to me that doing the preparatory work of getting in touch with people was all really lowbrow. Wouldn’t it take me down a notch if I offered to do that? At that point I saw I was wrong, that duties don’t vary in importance, and communication is also a duty. So why couldn’t I do that? Then I offered to help with contacting brothers and sisters. I realized that no matter the duty, as long as you have the right intention and can do it with your heart, facing God, you’ll feel at ease, at peace. Sometimes when I saw the supervisor was really busy and brothers and sisters were asking about details of the watering work, I wouldn’t think about my status, but just wanted to work well with everyone else and do my duty well. So I did everything I could to fellowship and resolve things. After some time, once I’d changed my mindset, everything changed in my duty. I felt more responsibility and found more problems, and my state gradually improved.
One day, a leader sought me out, and said she wanted me to take responsibility for a church’s work alongside another sister. I was so surprised to hear that. I didn’t know how to describe my feelings. It felt like all my misunderstandings and distance from God disappeared in an instant. I’d always been narrow-minded and misunderstood God. I felt like I’d failed in my duty before, so no matter how hard I worked after that, no one would see it. God wouldn’t have mercy or give me more chances. But God was waiting all along for me to turn around. He was setting things up so I could find my place, and accept the Creator’s arrangements. I’d always been trying to fight for my own status, and failing at every step. When I let go of that and stopped thinking of my own position, God gave me another commission. I saw how kind and lovely God’s essence is. God has never done someone in over something like that, and even though His judgment and chastisement contains His wrath, it’s also full of His profound expectations. He’s hoping that after His chastisement, after they’ve suffered, they’ll grow in life. This is God’s precious love! I give heartfelt thanks for God’s salvation for me.
I always used to relentlessly pursue name and status, which just left me tortured and exhausted. Without the judgment, trials, and revelations of God’s words, I never would have seen how deeply Satan corrupted me or how much I cared about status. I would have kept fighting for those things, toyed with by Satan, without a human likeness. I’ve personally experienced that God’s judgment and chastisement is His best protection and salvation, and His most genuine love. Just as God says, “In his life, if man wishes to be cleansed and achieve changes in his disposition, if he wishes to live out a life of meaning and fulfill his duty as a creature, then he must accept God’s chastisement and judgment, and must not allow God’s discipline and God’s smiting to depart from him, in order that he may free himself from the manipulation and influence of Satan, and live in the light of God. Know that God’s chastisement and judgment is the light, and the light of man’s salvation, and that there is no better blessing, grace or protection for man” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment).
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